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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) this week blasted the budget proposal for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which would cut Medicaid funding by $600 billion on top of the $800 billion in cuts in the House proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act and end Medicaid expansion. It would also increase overall investment in the opioid epidemic to just $811 million nationwide, while the State of Ohio alone spent $939 million fighting the opioid epidemic last year.
In a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Brown pressed HHS Secretary Tom Price on how his agency can possibly increase access to opioid addiction treatment while cutting Medicaid – its biggest source of funding.
Brown said to Price at the hearing: “You say you’re interested in fighting the opioid epidemic, yet your policy proposals tell a different story. You flat fund substance abuse treatment grants. You actually reduce spending on prevention programs and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. You cannot treat a disease with grant funding. You would never propose that we fight cancer and pay for cancer treatments through grant funding alone.”
In Ohio, Medicaid:
- Accounted for 70 percent of the $939 million the State of Ohio invested in the opioid epidemic in 2016.
- Covers half of all medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction.
Brown has spoken out against repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would hinder efforts to address the opioid crisis in Ohio. According to a Harvard study more than 220,000 Ohioans with addiction or mental health disorders now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Repeal would kick those people off of their insurance, potentially disrupting treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans as they are fighting for their lives.